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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report


B.2: The 1970s

The ‘meat rack’ and Playland Amusement Arcade

2. In the 1970s and into the early 1980s, the so-called ‘meat rack’ or ‘chicken rack’ near the Playland Amusement Arcade at Piccadilly Circus in the West End of London was notorious as a congregating spot for teenagers and young men. It has been reported that many of these boys and men were solicited and sexually exploited by older men, some of whom were alleged to be persons of public prominence associated with Westminster. In 1975, Scotland Yard investigated a number of individuals for sexual abuse of ‘rent boys’ around Piccadilly Circus. Five men were charged, including Charles Hornby, a wealthy socialite and an old Etonian.[1] Hornby pleaded guilty to conspiracy to procure acts of gross indecency by males under 21, committing acts of gross indecency and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

3. The reporting of such scandals in this period often used the term ‘rent boy’, which was (and is) an ambiguous term in that it does not distinguish between individuals below the age of 18, whom this Inquiry regards as children, and those over 18. The term seems to have been used generally to describe both teenagers and those in their early 20s, an issue which this report will explore further. As was made clear during the hearings,[2] the Inquiry does not endorse terms such as ‘rent boy’, ‘male prostitution’ or any other such language to describe what could more accurately be described as child sexual exploitation. However, this report will refer to these terms where necessary because they are relevant to the evidence we heard and were used during the time period we have investigated.

4. Allegations have been made much more recently by individuals in relation to events around Piccadilly Circus in the 1970s. The Inquiry obtained evidence from Mr Anthony Daly in relation to his book Playland: Secrets of a Forgotten Scandal, which was published in 2018.[3] Mr Daly tells the story of his time as a rent boy, when he was aged 20, over three months in 1975. He alleges that he was initially captured and recruited by Charles Hornby and that he became well acquainted with Charles’ brother, Simon Hornby, who paid him for sex. Though not a child himself at the time, Mr Daly alleges that he was forced to witness the depraved sexual abuse of two boys aged eight and 10 at a party attended by unnamed persons and two individuals whom he knew. He also made claims in his book that senior establishment figures were present at parties where underage rent boys were sexually abused and exploited.

The Paedophile Information Exchange and Sir Peter Hayman

5. The Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) was formed in 1974. Its aim was to campaign for changes to the law on the age of consent in order to allow adults to have sex with children. Its members shared these views in its magazines Understanding Paedophilia and Magpie. PIE’s philosophy was asserted in Tom O’Carroll’s book Paedophilia: the Radical Case, published in 1980. Tom O’Carroll was a member of PIE’s executive and a former secretary and chair of PIE.

6. It is clear that a number of PIE members were involved in the sexual abuse of children. High-profile members Peter Righton, Charles Napier, Richard Alston and Dr Morris Fraser were all convicted of offences related to child sexual abuse. In 1981, a number of senior PIE members, including Tom O’Carroll, were tried for conspiracy to corrupt public morals on the basis of ‘contact’ advertisements published in Magpie. Following a retrial, Tom O’Carroll was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment; he later admitted and was jailed for offences of distributing indecent images of children.[4] It seems that PIE disbanded in 1984.

7. There was at least one connection between PIE and Westminster in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sir Peter Hayman, a former High Commissioner to Canada, was a member of PIE, using the pseudonym ‘Peter Henderson’.[5]

8. It has also been claimed that PIE was provided with funding by the Home Office. Tim Hulbert was a consultant at the Home Office Voluntary Service Unit (VSU) from October 1977 until he became Deputy Director of Social Services for Hereford and Worcester County Council in October 1981. The VSU was responsible for providing funding to voluntary organisations that were not the direct responsibility of any single government department. Mr Hulbert recalls seeing a quarterly summary of pending grants or grants for renewal with an entry that read ‘WRVS (P.I.E.)’. He went to Clifford Hindley, the head of the unit at the time, and asked why the VSU was funding PIE. Mr Hulbert says that Mr Hindley told him that PIE was funded at the request of Special Branch, which found it useful to identify people with paedophile inclinations.[6]

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